Ninety minutes into Art for Ukraine, a two-day benefit sale on April 29 and 30 organized by six Midcoast artists, half the donated art was already sold. The hosting artists had to pull additional pieces from their own collected works to be able to sustain the second day of the sale. Those sold too.
Organizer Sally Loughridge said the event sold $15,700 worth of art and brought in an additional $1,670 in straight donations for a total of $17,520 raised. All the money will go to Doctors without Borders and Save the Children to provide aid to the families impacted by Russian aggression in their country.
Lyn Asselta, Jane Herbert, Betty Heselton, Penny Moody, Marnie Sinclair, and Loughridge started planning the sale a little over a month ago during a meeting of their regular paint and critique group. Working together they secured a space for the event at Coastal Rivers Conservation Trust headquarters at Round Top Farm in Damariscotta, and rounded up donated works from more than 70 artists.
When Herbert heard the April 28 edition of NPR radio program “Maine Calling” was doing a segment on how Mainers were finding ways to send aid and support to the people of Ukraine, she called in and gave a pitch for Art for Ukraine.
The sale exceeded their expectations. Loughridge said she was struck by “such generosity of spirit as well as wallet on the part of artists and buyers.”
Heselton thinks every city with an art district should look at organizing something similar.
“It wasn’t just that we made a lot of money, (but that) everyone felt so good about buying or donating … People are frustrated and they would like to be able to do something – this gave them a chance to help out,” she said.
Moody knows that the amount raised may be small compared to the vast need, but hopes it will provide inspiration for others to follow suit. “We got a huge response from the community and I am just so, so glad. Everyone worked so hard.”
Moody was scheduled for a shift on Saturday but said she drove by Friday just to see how it was going.
“I wonder what’s going on” she thought as she pulled up to Round Top Farm, before realizing that all the cars in the parking lot were there for the art sale. “I couldn’t believe the number of people going in.”
Herbert appreciated how the community came together around the event – the artists, the musicians, the venue, the buyers and the people who donated without buying. “I think the whole world is really on board with this,” she said.
Sinclair called the response “a testament to how desperate people are to help.” She said everyone who came in Friday morning either bought art or donated money. “People came in with their wallets open.”
Sinclair said they debated whether they should cancel the sale on Saturday, but she’s glad they didn’t. “People just kept coming in and buying stuff…It was well worth staying open for the two days.”
According to Loughridge, the Saturday sale even saw a couple of people native to Ukraine stop in.
From concept to event took six women less than six weeks.
“I hope this spurs others to see what they could creatively do,” Loughridge said.